May the force continue? Disney and Lucasfilm to release new Star Wars film every year from 2015

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It has been confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII will hit cinema screens in the summer of 2015 and that filmmakers are planning to release a Star Wars movie every summer from then onwards, alternating between spin-offs and new episodes in the saga.

After months of speculation over one-off character films and news that famous faces from the original cast including Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are being actively recruited, the news about the release date of Episode VII and plans to release subsequent films annually was announced at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and reported by Comingsoon.

Alan Horn, Walt Disney Co chairman, made the announcement yesterday at the film industry event but did not disclosed how many standalone character spin-off films Lucasfilm and Disney are planning to make in addition to the new trilogy being directed by JJ Abrams and written by Michael Arndt.

News of the spinoffs came to light in February when Disney boss Bob Iger told CNBC that the spin-offs were in the very early stages but that Larry Kasdan, writer of Empire Strikes Back, and Simon Kinberg, producer of This Means War, would be working on them.

“I don’t have details or specifics about the films themselves,” he said, disclosing that the film scripts are “becoming more real”. He added: “We’re not saying how many [films are being planned] although I did mention two creators [Kasdan and Simon Kinberg].”

Disney acquired George Lucas’ Lucasfilm company for $4.1bn last October and has been keen to capitalise on its investment by rebooting the franchise.

Actress Carrie Fisher, 56, revealed in March that she will reprise the role of Princess Leia that catapulted her to fame in the 1970s.

Speaking to Palm Beach Illustrated she described what she imagines Princess Leia is like today: “Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home,” before adding, in seriousness: “I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for big battle.”

It is believed that the first spin-off film will centre around Jedi master Yoda, pictured.